by Chivonne Preston, CEO of MiSP
Mental Health Awareness Week has taken place across the UK to raise awareness of the problems and stigmas around talking about and getting support for mental health issues. Here at MiSP, we are only too aware of the mental health crisis happening within our schools and are campaigning to promote the benefits of mindfulness across the education sector. Our programmes provide a fundamental skill to support children and young people, and we are committed to raising funds to bring mindfulness to more schools via our A Million Minds Matter appeal.
This week we have been delighted to launch our Youth Ambassador Programme as part of our effort to raise awareness of the positive impact that mindfulness practice has on young people. Hearing how mindfulness practice has sustained and supported Youth Ambassador Emily Brierley in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, how it has informed the amazing film that Youth Ambassador Luke Naylor-Perrott has made to highlight mental health issues among university students and how it has helped Youth Ambassador Enaya Ali to manage exam stress and anxiety has been inspirational.
Events like Mental Health Awareness Week are crucial in ensuring we talk nationally about the mental health issues facing our young people and pushing the focus on support services higher up the political agenda. But with such alarming statistics – 50% of mental health issues manifest themselves by the age of 14 – I believe we need to talk more about how to equip children directly with the skills and techniques to manage whatever life throws at them. I believe we can cultivate good mental health by giving young people a toolkit that they can use to support themselves not only in school but in their life beyond.
We know that the introduction of mindfulness skills in schools, for children, their teachers and their parents, can transform individual lives and the life of the community. The tenets of non-judgement, patience, curiosity, compassion, acceptance and kindness, on which secular mindfulness is based, present a compelling pedagogical opportunity as a whole-school approach, which our charity has seen this implemented with great success.
We want to alert more schools, more teachers, senior leaders, governors and parents about the benefits of mindfulness so that more children ca develop these skills for themselves. Our A Million Minds Matter appeal will enable us to extend our outreach and bring mindfulness to more schools and more children.